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Mercedes-Benz W25

The Classic Age — Automobiles of 1926-1939

Photography by: Daimler

Automobiles of Mercedes-Benz 1926-1939


Article by Graham Robson

from Daimler Archives

In 13 years from the official of Daimler with Benz in to the outbreak of World War II in 1939 produced some of the best, classic, fastest, and best-engineered in the world.

1926 Mercedes-Benz 300 8/38 with limousine by Daimler Sindelfingen

Soon the merger was formalized, rationalization set in. cars continued to be made at the works in Mannheim for a time, it was the Mercedes Sindelfingen factory of Stuttgart) that became the center. Existing Benz (10/30 and 16/50 models) soon phased out in favor of models (with 3.1-liter “Stuttgart” models (with engines) appeared at Sindelfingen, but the emphasis went into a whole range of side-valve 4- and family cars eventually tubular backbone chassis and front and rear suspensions.

Mercedes-Benz 18/80 Nurburg 460

In there was a mechanically unadventurous range, which might been influenced by Detroit, but car featured a side-valve 8-cylinder that eventually grew to 4.9 (299 cubic inches). this technically staid was still being built as the drew to a close.

1929 250 10/50

Prestige First

For the and the technical connoisseur, however, three different types of chassis would emerge, but that came the refinement of the alloy-blocked 6-cylinder machines, a founded by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche the Type 24/100/140 of 1924.

(as Karl Ludvigsen has already out) Dr. Porsche did not stay at beyond 1928, his legacy on, and this explains why the same car, complete with its chassis rails and stiffly front and rear axles, was until 1933.

Above: A 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK hp with distinctive external and wheelbase shortened for competition

these were complex and cars, with flamboyant in which the exhaust headers through side panels in the production was limited. The engines progressively enlarged and boosted to 7.1 (431 cubic inches), up to 225 horsepower when the throttle-pedal-actuated was in use. To make them more ultra-sporting, the engine was farther back in the frame (to the weight distribution), and a new short was designed for the K (“Kurz,” or “short”) of after which came the S, the SS, the and finally the SSKL, all sold in but prestigious numbers.

The Grand

The Grosser was built from to 1938. This handsome Type 770 150/200 hp limousine was for Japanese royalty.

Because a usually weighed at least pounds, the chauffeur must appreciated the power-assisted brakes, of course, there was no power for the which therefore required him to be especially for maneuvering at low speeds.

117 such cars were before an even more “Mk 2” Grosser was in 1937. This was a much technically advanced car with tubular frame members, front suspension, and de Dion suspension. The existing 8-cylinder was boosted to 230 horsepower, overwhelming for the day but to the 155-inch wheelbase. The handbuilt could measure more 20 feet long and weigh than 8,000 pounds. no motoring writer ever got to one of these cars when it was but top speeds of more than 100 mph believable, especially when one cruise along a newly autobahn at the head of an official

But now to money-making business and to remind that Mercedes-Benz was building 30,000 cars annually by the end of the Ford and Opel may have making more cars at time, but the three-pointed star no question, the upper-class prestigious to buy, at whatever level the could afford. Having off the excesses of Dr. Porsche’s era, achievement was due to patient, careful, and development of conventional machinery, using side-valve engines had been designed, then enlarged, after the merger place.

Value for Money

Technically and therefore, the first big advance in 1931 with the launch of the 170 model, which, with its side-valve 6-cylinder engine, the smallest and cheapest Mercedes-badged car to been built since resumed after the war in 1919.

A example of the Mercedes-Benz Type Sedan, launched in 1931 as an car for middle-class buyers

All in all, the 170 quite remarkable value for the Although the first cars only reach approximately 55 this was competitive for the period. Not did it have independent front and suspension, but this was also the time that such a had been offered on a series car in this price range. we did not know it at the time, it was the first of a new range and type of Mercedes-Benz and it startled the rest of the European industry. Interestingly, swing of this type would be at the rear of all future Mercedes-Benz until the arrival of the “New range of the mid-1960s.

A 1938 170V Cabriolet shows even at the affordable end of the lineup, the was offering well-appointed cars

Nor was all, for this car also steel-disc wheels, hydraulically brakes, and centralized chassis None of these features was new, but as a package, they that Mercedes-Benz engineers had thinking, deeply, for some before the 170 arrived. Nearly of this type of 170 would be and soon it was joined by the 200 (which had a 2.0-liter engine), which sell even better.

From 1933 it got confusing, for the new 290 had an even larger 68-horsepower along with a different suspension that also coil springs. But that was the beginning, for by 1936 the Type 200 the Type 230 (2.2-liter engine), the 290 had been replaced by the Type 320 liters), both cars all-synchromesh gearboxes, and the style was modernized.

A 1936 Mercedes-Benz 200 Cabriolet A

More and more ensued, with a new generation of chassis frame introduced and 170V/230/320 ranges taking from the still-popular types.

Two real novelties, however, took the pundits’ breath Not only was there a new diesel-engined in 1936 (this was a world’s for no one had previously tried to sell private cars), but a new small car, too. Neither was a success at the time, but both how far ahead of the conventional automotive Mercedes-Benz was actually thinking.

The was a specially developed, low-revving 2.6-liter 4-cylinder unit of no refinement, but it was economical, and powerful to produce 60 mph when inserted in a 230 chassis. It sold steadily to drivers, as well as to those for long lives rather brisk performance. It would however, be revived after War II.

The rear-engined car, dubbed 130H (“H” for “Heck,” or followed the latest German (the Volkswagen “People’s don’t forget, was already in the pot by then) and had a simple backbone frame but all-independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering. The engine, a 4-cylinder side valve the so far, from Mercedes-Benz only 26 horsepower, and the handling has described as “very strange,” for it was a oversteerer, rather like a worn VW Beetle or Corvair be seen in later years. also The Star, September-October p. 44.)

Mercedes-Benz W25

Amazingly, the company persevered, as many vices as it could, and to sell 10,000 of them upgrading the design to 170H in with a 38-horsepower 1.7-liter of the same engine. Mercedes-Benz developed a very attractive version of the same design, a tourer style featuring a engine (it was ahead of the line of the axle) with a single cylinder head. Very indeed, were ever (See also The Star, 2010, p. 48.)

An expensive 540 K tourer was offered in small this is a 1936 Cabriolet B for passengers in rear seat).

The glamorous, yet attainable if the money there, of all 1930s Mercedes-Benz were the flamboyant 540K tourers, which were in hundreds (not thousands) 1933. All had stylish and magnificent coachwork, usually with seats though two-seaters also to be found with of those splendid, unmistakable designs coming from itself.

All the sports tourers the same type of supercharged 8-cylinder engine, which life at 3.8 liters and progressed to 5.4 the last producing 180 horsepower. there was the 380K, complete coil-spring independent front and swing-axle rear, then was the 500K, and, from the 540K. The last was certainly of more than 105 mph, made it as memorable as, say, the of the 1950s. There would been more to come, as promised by the 580K preview had a 5-speed gearbox) in 1939, but it to reach production before the war all civilian car-building to an end.

Grand Prix

In his feature 34-39), Karl Ludvigsen has detailed the personalities, the company, and the politics behind Mercedes-Benz’s in Grand Prix motor so I will sketch out the cars, and achievements, covering 19341939.

The company had its all-new W25 single-seater to race by mid-1934. As first it was painted white, but the paint was stripped off to reveal an aluminum skin. The cars were nicknamed “Silberpfeile” (“Silver Racing in direct competition Auto Union (also of this supercharged 350-brake-horsepower straight-eight won three important Prix that year.

The race cars with 600-horsepower engine won seven of 13 races in 1937.

In 1935, the W25s now running with 4-liter “eights” were winning five major and four less important with a bonus that Rudi Caracciola became Champion. In 1936, unhappily, was a setback, for a new set of short-wheelbase W25/1936 could not handle well to exploit all the potential of the latest engines there were two major victories.

For 1937, the racing department, inspired by Uhlenhaut, designed the new W125, had an oval-tube chassis, longer-travel and a 600-horsepower 5.66-liter straight-eight. the most classic of prewar single-seaters, could reach 210 mph if geared, and won seven of the 13 races it started. From 1937, Prix cars would not be as as this until the first of the machines raced in the 1980s.

For and 1939, the authorities changed the (were they, perhaps, to neuter the dominance of the Silver but Mercedes-Benz immediately produced new-style W154 cars supercharged V-12 470-horsepower power units. Not only did cars win six major races in but, with even power, they would win five major races in

One very special occasion in May 1939, when the company all-new 265-horsepower 1.5-liter V-8 to compete in the Tripoli Grand Design, development, and build completed in eight months, the finished first and second, and the opposition was humiliated.

Breaking Records

In the 1930s, the also found time to a series of special cars to straight-line record marks. in 1934, a W25 achieved 197 mph at Gyon Budapest), then, in 1936, a W25, with streamlined used a special supercharged 5.6-liter V-12 engine to 228 mph on a new road near Frankfurt. streamliners hit 248 mph

at Frankfurt in 1937, an amazing 269 mph with a 736-brake-horsepower-engined car in 1938.

Built in 1939, the 80 was to be powered by a 3,000-horsepower

engine. It is now in the Museum.

The most monstrous and record contender of all the Type 80 unfinished as war broke out. to attack outright the world speed record (which at 370 mph), it was to be powered by a supercharged V-12 aero-engine (3,000 44.5 liters). It might accomplished the goal, but world decreed otherwise, and it never ran on the track, or even demonstration But it still survives one of the stars of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

Mercedes-Benz W25
Mercedes-Benz W25
Mercedes-Benz W25


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